Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Silver Girl (Elin Hilderbrand)

I was looking through my posts today and noticed that it has been quite awhile since I was able to give a book a "5" rating. The authors I normally love, such as Jodi Picoult (a "2" for Sing You Home???) and Jennifer McMahon just didn't put out the work that I expected from them this year. I love, love, love Bethenny Frankel, but she can't really write a book. The last "5" I gave was to Jane Green on June 2 for the lovely Promises to Keep. I was getting a little discouraged. Then came Silver Girl.

Ironically, it was Jane Green herself who told me about Hilderbrand. I e-mailed Ms. Green to let her know how much I enjoyed Promises. Imagine my surprise when, within minutes, this New York Times bestselling, very busy author, e-mailed me back to thank me and tell me about Elin Hilderbrand. I was pleasantly surprised to find out that Hilderbrand grew up right down the street from where I am living now!

Silver Girl is just a treasure, and I was actually sad when it ended. It is a fictional account that is ripped from the headlines. Meredith Delinn is the wife of Freddy Delinn, who is in jail for life for cheating investors out of billions of dollars. People think that Meredith knew what Freddy was up to, and so she is scorned and rejected by everyone she knows. To make matters worse, she and her son (who she is forbidden to have contact with) are under investigation by the FBI.

Connie is Meredith's old friend, who she has not seen or talked to in years due to a falling out. Out of Meredith's desperation, she contacts Connie, who reluctantly agrees to give her refuge at her summer house in Nantucket. Even though Meredith is out of Manhattan, she still is in danger by people who want revenge for her husband's dealings. Meredith never truly feels safe, even as she begins to get some people back into her life, including her ex-lover, Connie's brother, Toby. This is not only Meredith's story of trying to get her life back, but also Connie's, who is still grieving for her deceased husband and trying desperately to get back in touch with her estranged daughter.

What a beautiful, beautiful book. From the gorgeous cover, to the picturesque setting throughout, the reader will become enchanted with Meredith's story. Read this book slowly, and treasure every word. One realizes from reading this that life is not about what car you drive or how big your house is, but who you can count on when life unexpectedly goes awry.

MY RATING - 5 (YAY!!!!)

Part of this review can also be found on

Monday, July 18, 2011

A Southerly Course (Martha Hall Foose)

With the exception of Paula Deen (butter, butter, and more butter), Martha Hall Foose is the queen of Southern cooking. So much so that the director of the upcoming film The Help (based on Kathryn Stockett's outstanding novel) used her in food consultation. Foose creates beautifully illustrated cookbooks of recipes that can really be found nowhere else.

From appetizers to desserts, Foose has the competent cook covered. Her recipes are easy to follow, but definitely not for the diet-conscious. One can find lard, shortening, bacon, and heavy cream in quite a few. There is not a "bacon cheeseburger" in sight in this cookbook. Instead, be prepared to find "Honey Pear Salad", "Dandelion Cracklings", "Venison Meatballs", and "Roasted Pigeons with Bread Sauce". If none of these sound appetizing, I would advise against this book, as it is definitely for the adventurous cook and eater.

My own gripe is that I need to see pictures of the finished product. While the illustrations that are there are beautiful, there is not one for every recipe. I need to know what my "Delicata Browned Butter Crepes" should look like, Martha! However, all in all, this is a book that would go nicely in a cook's cupboard.


This review can also be found on

Shiver (Maggie Stiefvater)

I'm sure that Maggie Stiefvater is sick to death of being compared to Stephenie Meyer (Yes, the Stephenie that I met, by the way, when Twilight first came out. I organized her book signing as Community Relations Manager of Barnes & Noble. If you think I totally wrote that to make me sound cool, you would be correct. It IS true though!). It is hard to believe that Stiefvater didn't draw just the slightest inspiration from Meyer, as Shiver is about werewolf love. This is the first in a trilogy, with Linger and Forever being the other two (Notice the "er" at the end of all three? Cute.).

Linger is the story of Grace and Sam, two star-crossed lovers in the same realm as Romeo and Juliet and Bella and Edward (Yes, I did just put Shakespeare, Meyer, and Stiefvater in the same sentence.). Sam became a wolf when he was bitten as a child, and changes with the temperature (hot...human, cold...wolf). One day as a wolf, his pack attacks Grace, a small child. He saves Grace's life and brings her to her home. Years pass, and the community is becoming fearful after one of their own is "killed" by a wolf. Hunters try to put a stop to them, Sam is shot, and becomes human for some unexplained reason. Grace and Sam fall in love, and they do everything possible to keep Sam warm at all times. This is where Shiver takes off. Stiefvater has an uncanny knack, even more so than Meyer, for making a story about werewolves seem "normal", like you are reading about an everyday high school couple.

Even though Edward/Bella/Jacob are far more interesting to me to read about, Shiver is worthwhile on a beach day. I did not find it that compelling that I had to stop everything and read it; however, I am interested to find out what happens next for this couple. Grudgingly, Linger awaits.


Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Knit Two (Kate Jacobs)

I read Kate Jacobs's first in this series, The Friday Night Knitting Club, back in January 2010. I remember curling up with it on long winter evenings, wishing that I could knit like the knitters in this book (Reread my post on this. I had just taken a knitting class, and I was the only one who left the first class without a square!). Needless to say, I like to live vicariously through people who have hobbies that I can only dream to do. Knit Two continues the story of "Walker and Daughter" and the people we have come to know and love.

SPOILER ALERT: At the end of The Friday Night Knitting Club, the reader is shocked to the core when she learns that Georgia has succumbed to cancer. Knit Two takes us years down the road, when Georgia's college-age daughter, Dakota, is running the store with her mom's friend, Peri. Georgia's long-lost friend, Catherine, is trying to find some meaning in her life while still grieving for the friend she had only just reconnected with. Anita, a spitfire in her late 70s, is preparing for her wedding to Marty while trying to find her sister somewhere in the world. Darwin has just given birth to twins, realizing that motherhood and career can go hand-in-hand.

The core of these novels is the friendship the women have with each other. Even though their lives will always intertwine, I found the number of "coincidences" in Knit Two to be less than believable. The trip to Italy, which many of them go on separately, makes the reader long to go back to the store. I did not find Georgia's trip to Scotland to visit Gran in The Friday Night Knitting Club to be as jarring as the Italy trip...perhaps because it was Georgia. I truly missed her in this sequel.


Sunday, July 3, 2011

The Maine Summers Cookbook (Linda and Martha Greenlaw)

I don't really know what my obsession with Maine cooking has been all about lately. I think having just reviewed Lobster Claws & Blueberry Pie (about summers in Kennebunkport), I wanted something to compare it to. While Lobster Claws seems to be an anecdotal record with some recipes thrown in, The Maine Summers Cookbook is all about the recipes, with just a few anecdotes.

The subtitle of Linda and Martha Greenlaw's book (mother and daughter), Recipes for Delicious, Sun-Filled Days, says it all. As I look out my window on this beautiful, sunny, July 3rd in Philly, eating a lobster roll by the pool sounds like my cup of tea. Maine is known, obviously, for the lobster, but I never knew that it was also known for its blueberries. The reader of this cookbook runs into somewhat of a problem, however, when the recipe calls for Maine blueberries or Maine crabmeat, and he or she does not live in Maine (like me). But just like a Key Lime Pie only tastes delicious when using key limes (hence the name), making the recipes like the Greenlaws call for requires the authentic ingredients.

Short anecdotes about pig roasting and "rafting up" come between the real "meat" (no pun intended) of the book...the recipes. From cocktails to desserts, the Greenlaws have you covered. The heart of the book is, of course, seafood (Maine stuffed clams, Red crab cakes, Lobster rolls, etc.)., but I was surprised by the number of other types of food (Moxie Island baked steak, Cilantro and cholula corn bread, Cinnamon-blueberry ice cream, etc.). You literally could put a whole meal together every day for a month just using this book.

The Greenlaws are true "Mainers", and as the pictures show, they know their stuff (witness the picture of soaking wet Linda Greenlaw digging for clams). When you can't get to Maine, this is the next best thing.


This review can also be found at